Until recently, most interventions for domestic abuse were geared to older perpetrators and victims. Increased awareness of violence among teens is sparking a flurry of initiatives for teens, says the Chicago Tribune. The nation’s first national abuse hot line for teens will open today. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 14,000 high school students in 2005, 9.2 percent said they had been “hit, slapped or physically hurt” by their dating partners in the previous 12 months. Perhaps surprisingly, the incidence was about the same among girls and boys.
Hitting isn’t the only form of abuse. Today, a boy might send text messages to a girl’s cell phone 30 times an hour to keep track of where she is and what she’s doing. Such examples underscore why experts believe efforts to prevent abuse and help victims must be tailored to the age group. Parents often are clueless about the technology used by teens, which can help conceal high-risk situations. Advising an abused teenager living at home is very different from advising a battered spouse, said Sheryl Cates of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which will run the new phone line for teens. Most young victims don’t confide in their parents, who probably aren’t too keen on the boyfriend or girlfriend to begin with. Adults may insist that the relationship be ended–not so easy in high school, where “social status” and “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” often go hand in hand.